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September 29, 2022

Feelin’ Groovy: Fascinating Vintage Color Pictures of High School Fashion Across America in 1969

“The latest rule in girls’ high school fashion,” LIFE magazine proclaimed in 1969, “is that there isn’t any.”

In contrast to the popular fashions and styles of certain decades the Gibson Girl of the 1890s and early 1900s, the flapper of the Roaring Twenties, the “New Look” of the Fifties there was no single reigning style in the 1960s. Even as the slim-cut trousers and shift dresses of the late Fifties crept in, Mod miniskirts and go-go boots found their way over from London to mingle with the bell-bottomed jeans and fringed vests of the latter part of the decade. By 1969, the fashion choices of tens of millions of young American men and women were as variegated and ever-evolving as the world around them.

A “freaky new freedom,” LIFE called it. Was it ever!

Cultural transformation was an irresistible force during the Sixties, and across America and around the globe civil rights, women’s and gay liberation, the sexual revolution and, of course, the explosive soundtrack of R&B, soul and rock and roll informed everything from politics to fashion.

Students at Woodside High in California, 1969.

By 1969, America’s youth had not only soaked in more visual and auditory stimuli in a few years than most previous generations combined, but had re-imagined virtually all of that input in the form of sartorial self-expression. Take a look back through these fascinating pictures taken by LIFE photographer Arthur Schatz:

Student Rosemary Shoong at Beverly Hills High School, wearing a dress she made herself, 1969.

Beverly Hills High classmates showed off their fashions, 1969.

High school teacher Sandy Brockman wore a bold print dress, 1969.

Beverly Hills High School student Erica Farber, wearing a checkered and tiered outfit, walked with a boy, 1969.

Corona del Mar High School students Kim Robertson, Pat Auvenshine and Pam Pepin wore “hippie” fashions, 1969.

A Southern California high school student walked toward classmates while wearing the “Mini Jupe” skirt, 1969.

A Southern California high schooler wore a buckskin vest and other hippie fashions, 1969.

High school students wore “hippie” fashion, 1969.

High schooler Nina Nalhaus wore wool pants and a homemade jacket in Denver, Colo., 1969.

High schooler Lenore Reday stopped traffic while wearing a bell-bottomed jump suit in Newport Beach, Calif., 1969.

A Southern California high school student wore an old-fashioned tapestry skirt and wool shawl, 1969.

Southern California high school students, 1969.

High school fashions, 1969.

High school fashions, 1969.

High school fashion, 1969.

A high school student wore bell bottoms and boots, 1969.

High school fashions, 1969.

A Kansas high school student wore a mini skirt, 1969.

(via LIFE)


  1. What? No 350 lb progressive Karens with purple hair in that period?

    1. And no rage-junkie, Tucker-slobbering rich snobs in red hats, either.

  2. According to the original LIFE article, Rosemary Shoong's dress was a $14.95 version of a dress that was selling for $95.

  3. These were good times but not everyone had the money for the trendier fashions. Some schools (like mine) would not tolerate bare midriffs, but short skirts were OK. The natural look was in, and over 50 years later I still appreciate the look of long hair and limited makeup. I pity young people today. Some of the creatures attending high school today would have been shunned in simpler times. And yes, overweight students were rare.




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